A world record for sheep shearing could soon have a Banburyshire man’s name next to it later this month.
Professional sheep shearer, Stuart Connor, who is also a member of the English national team, will attempt to break the nine-hour lamb shearing world record.
For Stuart, the attempt is for a reason close to his heart – the memory of his daughter, Grace, who died at the age of three of mitochondrial disease.
Stuart and wife, Kira, were given the devastating diagnosis on March 23, 2018, after Grace – who the couple described as ‘loud, demanding and slightly crazy’ – started being sick and having small seizures.
She was taken to Horton Hospital, where she baffled medical professionals. After being transferred to the John Radcliffe in Oxford, an MRI showed she’d had a stroke.
On April 6, Grace had to be put into an induced coma on a ventilator after having another stroke, then, on April 20, she was diagnosed with mitochondrial disease.
The following day, her parents made the heartbreaking decision to allow Grace to come off her ventilator. She passed away two days later.
Now Stuart is planning to shear more than 867 lambs under the watchful eyes of the judges from the British Isles Shearing Association at the farm of Andy Wear, at Fern Hill Farm, Compton Martin, Somerset, from 5am on September 21. It is something Stuart has been wanting to do for some time.
He said: “Grace was a copy cat. She had her own pair of shearing jeans and her own foam rollers… she loved everything I did, whether it be driving the tractor, shearing sheep or being with the dogs.”
Stuart will undertake nine hours of shearing over a 12-hour day. As well as the record attempt, there will be wool crafts, rural events, food, a bar and sheep dog trials.
Stuart is being mentored by nine-hour strong ewe world record holder Matt Smith, and is being trained by fitness entrepreneur Matt Luxton. At the challenge, Stuart will be monitored for fluid intake and given various other tests.
Mole Valley Farmers is donating the wood for the shearing stage and will provide refreshments, asking for donations for teas and coffees, with all proceeds going to Team Grace and The Lily Foundation.
Stuart has his own shearing round in Banbury, where he shears around 20,000 a year with the help of one other and has his own 200 ewe flock of New Zealand Romneys.